Hearing scheduled for judge accused of stealing drug evidence

June 24, 2013

The preliminary hearing for Paul Pozonsky, the former Washington County Common Pleas judge accused of stealing and tampering with cocaine evidence, has been scheduled for August.

Washington County court officials on Monday confirmed that Pozonsky’s preliminary hearing will be held at the courthouse at 10 a.m. Aug. 21. A courtroom has not been selected.

The state Supreme Court earlier this month appointed Senior District Judge Michael Gerheim of Armstrong County to handle Pozonsky’s hearing.

Pozonsky was charged May 23 with one felony count of conflict of interest and more than a dozen misdemeanor counts, including theft, obstruction of justice, misapplying entrusted government property and possession of a controlled substance. He was released on $25,000 bond and was allowed to return to his new home in Anchorage, Alaska.

Pozonsky, 57, was supposed to have his preliminary hearing June 13, but that was postponed while the judges were selected by the Supreme Court.

Senior Bedford County Judge Daniel Lee Howser will preside over the case if it reaches Common Pleas Court.

Investigators said Pozonsky stole cocaine evidence after ordering police to bring it into his courtroom during several routine pretrial hearings. He allegedly kept the drugs in a locked cabinet in a vault in his office.

District Attorney Gene Vittone on multiple occasions asked for the evidence to be returned so it could be properly stored or destroyed. However, Pozonsky told Vittone that he personally destroyed all of the evidence in his possession. Last May, a court reporter in Pozonsky’s office found a box containing evidence and turned it over to the district attorney’s office. Pozonsky abruptly resigned from his seat on the bench last June after being removed from hearing criminal cases by President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca when reports surfaced that he was being investigated by a state grand jury.

Pozonsky had been a Washington County judge since 1998.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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